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I Actors, 5 Hostes humani generis: Pirates, Slavers, and other Criminals

Joaquín Alcaide Fernández

From: The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law

Edited By: Bardo Fassbender, Anne Peters

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 01 June 2023

Terrorism — Piracy — Enslavement and forced labour — Violations of the laws or customs of war
Despite Cicero's celebrated definition of pirates as hostes humani generis,1 there is no trace of the expression in (positive) international law. The ‘criminals against humanity’—which included enslavers and sexual slavers,2 but not (yet) pirates or terrorists—come the closest today to those ‘enemies of all humanity’. There being no mention on international treaties, what is it that scholars have meant when they referred to hostes humani generis in treatises on international law? The meaning was generally twofold: pirates were worthy of punishment; and, to put it...
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